National Guard helping to staff state’s prisons

More than 10% of FDOC positions remain vacant and facilities are understaffed. Photo courtesy: Florida Department of Corrections

On Sept. 9, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order to activate the Florida National Guard to assist the Florida Department of Corrections with correctional officer shortages.

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee approved a $31 million plan to have the Florida National Guard  assist the FDOC for 9 months or until they are no longer needed for assistance. DeSantis approved the plan and issued the executive order.

The Florida National Guard has since deployed 300 members throughout the state.

Their duties will include manning guard towers, perimeter patrols and control stations, which will allow correctional officers to deal with and supervise the inmates. The guards will not be dealing with inmates or their supervision.

With the help of the National Guard, this partnership will lessen the burden on correctional employees, as well as give the FDOC more time to find more employees.

“We received historic pay increases for our correctional officers and have hired more correctional officers monthly than we have seen in years,” said Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Ricky Dixon in a press release. “With the temporary support of the Florida National Guard, we will be able to recover and train the next generation of public safety professionals to perform our important mission,”

Even with the pay raises and other benefits the FDOC has offered to recruit more members, more than 4,000 vacancies need to be filled statewide.

They are also adding a $1,000 signing bonus for new officers at select locations and are adding incentives for current officers of the DOC as well.

Wakulla Correctional Institution Warden Paul Allen gave a statement in a press release from the FDOC regarding the partnership with the National Guard.

“As a recently retired guardsman of 32 years, I fully appreciate the preparedness and support functions of Florida’s National Guard and am honored to have them working alongside our staff,” Allen said.

The Wakulla Correctional Facility in Crawfordville has approximately 270 vacancies as of last month with a staff of about 500 employees.

Florida National Guard members will be assisting the following understaffed facilities: Northwest Florida Reception Center, Reception and Medical Center, and Calhoun, Franklin, Hamilton, Jackson, Mayo, Santa Rosa, and Union correctional institutions.

For more information regarding job openings at the Florida Department of Corrections, visit the My Florida website.